Lee Pitts: It’s the Pitts: Big Names, Little Pills | TSLN.com

Lee Pitts: It’s the Pitts: Big Names, Little Pills

I’m not proud of this but I take 20 pills per day to stay alive, which goes a long way in explaining why my writing may appear loopy. Every time I go to a different specialist they ask me what drugs I’m taking, which would be no problem if the drugs had simple names. But no, the drug companies want to make it difficult so the docs write prescriptions in handwriting you can’t read, for drugs none of us can spell. Or pronounce. They aren’t even words. That could be a deadly combination and you could end up with an 88 year old lady taking Viagra instead of her blood pressure medicine.

Making it worse, every drug has at least two names, its own and a generic. Gabapentin is generic for Neurontin, Benazepril is generic for Lotensin, Gemfibrozil is generic for Lopid and on and on. It’s as if they are trying to impress the FDA with their big sounding fake words. Why don’t they speak English? What are they trying to hide?

It seems that the smaller the pill the more difficult the name. And who among us can remember if Acetaminophen is Tylenol or Advil? Or is it Ibuprofren? It’s terribly confusing and perhaps that’s the point. Drug companies use such long words to confuse us and give us a headache so we have to buy even more pills for the pain.

Big pharma does the same thing with drugs we give our animals and they have evidently hired the same marketing firms who name their drugs to also name their companies. For example, Pfizer, a trusted name in animal drugs for generations, renamed its animal division Zoetis. What’s a Zoetis? Then there are things like Zilmax and Zactran. Makes you wonder if the wordsmiths who came up with these names are big Scrabble junkies and they needed more “z” words for triple letter scores.

Drug makers have merged and purged so much we have firms like CIBA-Geigy and Sandoz, GlaxoSmithKline and Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, which sound more like law firms. Schering-Plough sounds like they make tractor implements and Intervet sounds like it’s giving the veterinarian permission to come into your house or barn.

Consider the drugs Vetoquinol, Pyxis and Clamoxyquine. It’s as if they are on a mission to give rarely used letters of the alphabet equal rights. Even words that seem faintly familiar are misspelled, like Cylence Ultra. If you or I would have spelled “silence” that way in grammar school we’d have been held back a year.

Because ranchers are practical people we give these drugs nicknames to remember them. Clenbuterol becomes “bute” and Acerpromazine becomes “Ace”. Or we just refer to their size and color, as in, “Hey doc, I need some of those big blue pills for scours. Well they’re not for me really, they’re for my calves.”

I just wish the names of the drugs would give some hint as to what they do. Tylan 200 is a great product but it gives no hint as to what it does; it sounds more like the name of a Nascar race. And what’s with all the numbers like Pyramid 5, Triangle 9 or Arsenal 4.1? They sound more like computer operating systems than they do drugs.

We should take a page from the pesticide people who name their products things like Ambush, Ammo, Avenge, Bullet, Lariat or Crossbow. Now that’s an Arsenal. (Another pesticide). The products you buy in a grocery store aren’t named this way. Instead they have simple names like Fritos, Snickers or Twinkies. If Proctor and Gamble or Kraft owned a drug company their ear tags would be called Swat and their scour pills would be known far and wide as Plug-It.

There is one exception. Every time I see a Viagra or Cialis commercial I get red-in-the-face embarrassed and I certainly don’t want the names of those pills describing on television exactly what it is they do!

Uh, oh, I better quit now because there’s smoke coming from my computer and I think I may have just fried my spell checker.

Lee Pitts

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